Archive: November 2015

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Thank you, “Thanksgiving’ !

It is overwhelming at times when I think of ‘Thanksgiving’ and why it is celebrated in the US. The origin of Thanksgiving is generally seen as a celebration by the Pilgrims of their survival due to a good harvest mostly because of knowledge provided by the Native Americans who knew the lay of the land. But for me, it has always been something different, it was as if everyone was ‘thanking’ for being alive, or rather, for having a life! And, of course, when we talk about ‘Thanksgiving’, reminiscence is not left behind either!

Every Thanksgiving, everyone has to ‘Thank’ themselves for all the memories they have created down the road. In my opinion, memories are the only wealth that makes our lives rich! When we talk to the elderly people they tell you more about their childhood and youth than their life at present. They might lose their teeth, their eye sight, and might forget what they ate that morning, but their memories of days gone by them ages ago are always intact in their mind. Am I growing old too that I am talking of childhood memories?! Maybe I am! Maybe not! Maybe I’m just nostalgic and so I write…

It is not exaggerating to say that I remember the first time I experienced physical pain as if it was yesterday. Clichéd but true! I don’t remember the pain, but the source and the situation are clear… my foot got into the front wheel of a bicycle as my dad’s man Friday drove me home from school. I was sitting on the ‘baby’ seat on the front of the bicycle and he was riding it pretty fast. I was carried home after we fell and my mom was in tears when she saw me bleeding! I was in kindergarten then! And I can never ‘Thank’ my mom enough for always ‘picking me up’ since then, whenever I fell…

It is funny how I taught my kids to ride a bicycle in a couple of hours while I had taken two weeks to learn it. I was very particular that I learn it myself and my dad encouraged me. Even at an age where I was in the fifth grade, my thoughts were way different than others. I would sit on the carriage seat of the little red bicycle I had and try to balance. It was easier that way as my foot would reach the ground and the chances of my falling down were less. I ultimately learnt to balance, and ‘Thanks’ to my dad, he helped me on to the actual seat and gave me a push! Wee… I rode and rode and rode to school, and back, till my twelfth grade! Need I say that since then, my Dad has always given me that little ‘push’ to achieve anything!

Small things create big memories. What seems important for one would be a trivial thing for another. But, when you are a teenager, every look thrown in your direction makes you blush, everyone who praises you becomes your friend and every pat on the back enthralls you. And when all the three come from the same person, it turns into admiration. It was difficult to think then, whether it was the love for ‘English’ or for the one who taught it, that made me concentrate more in that particular class. Whatever it may have been, ‘Thanks’ to my English teacher in Middle School, I am what I am today, an English teacher!

Living life is one thing and enjoying life is another… ‘Bunking’ classes, ‘giggling’ for nothing, ‘teasing’ boys, ‘naming ‘the lecturers, skipping lunch to have ‘chat’…. I would have deprived myself of these if I hadn’t stayed in a hostel for higher studies. Fun is a small word when the beaches are part of the landscape from your room, the sound of the waves is your alarm clock, and the smiles of your friends first thing in the morning are your meditation. I should ‘thank’ myself for getting to study in that University, where the hostel rooms faced the beach and the changing colors of the sky and sea were my constant companions.

A little flashback before getting into this University would be appropriate when I ‘thank’ my stars. It was for the entrance exam of this course and University that made me travel all by myself in the train. And lo and behold! I met my future there! Looking back, I strongly feel that fate and coincidences are not story-book fantasies, they happen in real life too. My future in-laws along with my future husband were my co-passengers and since then, they have been so. ‘Thanks’ to my husband who took pains to woo me with his incessant sweet banter, and for walking with me since then through thick and thin. A train led to a train of encounters, ‘colliding’ into love and traversing in the direction of wedlock.

When I look at a lot of couples who crave every day and are desperately waiting to get a ‘boon’ from Above to get to be known as parents, I feel so blessed and ‘thank’ God for it. Going to the edge of ‘no return’ and then, bouncing back and that too, with a baby in hand is amazing. Today, I feel all the pain, every critical situation was worth it when I look at my beautifully growing teenage daughters.

Somewhere along the way, everybody has an ‘influence’ of a ‘Hero’, whom you emulate and follow with admiring looks. For me, she was the sole inspiration and the ‘perfect heroine’ to learn from. For her age and generation, my Granny was very forward in thinking. ‘Thanks’ to her, I learnt a lot about life and also, believe it or not, Fashion! Even today, when I think that my being in the US has cost me by not being able to have a last glimpse of her before she walked away into the other world, my heart becomes heavy.

‘Thanking’ people and their role in your life is the true respect we ‘give’ to them. But there would be some moments too, which are to be appreciated in life. I’m sure everyone would have a moment in their life which makes them say, “This is it! “, a moment when you think, if life is taken away from you right then, you are fine! When I stepped onto the deck of the building from the elevator to see the Niagara Falls for the first time, I was awestruck! Staring at the grandeur, all I could think was “Thank God, I’m alive!”

 

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Profile photo of Anita Ayela Hug me, Grandma!

Grandma Hug

Reading one article on Mashable today set me thinking. It was about kids hugging adults, in this case, a great grandma. The author was ok with her kid not hugging the 90-year-old great grandma because “she looks like a witch”. Aren’t all grandmas and great grand moms an epitome of love and affection, and also delicacies-cooking experts?! But, this article left me pondering on relationships in general and future human relationships in particular.

In a world, where everyone is hugging everyone in public, and kissing as a gesture of warmth, it doesn’t make sense to me when I read something like this. When you can hug an acquaintance or a friend, why can’t you hug your relative? It is very wrong on the part of the parents to say that even a kid has to have a say in hugging someone. ‘Someone’ sure! But your kith and kin shouldn’t count into a ‘someone’ list.

Back in India too, until some years back, we didn’t have any hugging or ‘fake kissing’ in the southern part of the country. Touch was not a common thing in our community. Yes, grandparents were always exceptional. Grandkids would sit on their lap and listen to stories or talk to them about their school. But then, now a days, since the awareness of child abuse, that has stopped too, in most houses.

In Northern India, hugging is a very common thing, and everybody hugs everybody as a welcome gesture. It is possible that this culture came from the Muslim rulers in that part of the country. In Islam, hugging is a warm way of showing love. But, for me, a girl from south India, hugging and touching seems very artificial between friends and acquaintances.

But, I have never had a problem if I’m blood-related to that person. In fact, I loved to hug and plant a kiss on my grandma’s cheek even when I was a teenager. I loved her smell, and loved the love and affection I felt when I hugged her. Her soft but wrinkled skin was very dear to me, as I knew that this is what would happen when one ages. I should give the credit to my parents for inculcating this sense of ‘belonging’ that we have in our house. And hence, my brothers and I have always been able to connect to relatives and show our care and concern for them.

This care and concern is seen very rarely here in the US. I sometimes see the grandparents come to their grandkids’ music concerts in school, but it seems like an obligation to me. They come separately, sit together and watch and leave separately. They usually shake hands and rarely hug, and both the gestures seem artificial to me. Maybe, it’s just me, but I feel that there is not much bonding between them. I know it is a culture thing, but then, relationships should be natural not culture bound, right?!

Initially, I was scared when I came into this country, that my kids would lose their ‘Indianness’, but no. My kids mingle well with my parents and my husband’s parents, as I did in my childhood with my grandparents. They have a lot of love and affection toward them and show it physically too. Especially, in my house, when my mom hugs them affectionately and my dad pats them on the back, my kids respond very positively.

When I was a kid, we would go to my Grandparent’s house every summer as we lived in a different state, due to my dad’s job. In the summer, from a cool place, we would go to a hot and humid place, and stay for a month or two, just so we enjoyed the company of my grandparents. We never ever felt the pain as it was so much fun living with them and getting pampered and loved unconditionally.

Now, my kids are going through the same separation pangs as we did. My parents and my husband’s parents live in India, and my kids miss them a lot. Every time we go to India , the kids enjoy their grandparents’ company a lot. Occasionally when the grandparents come over to the USA to visit us for six months, my kids love to show them off to their friends. The love that the grandparents bestow on them is forever priceless.

I think it all boils down to the way the kids are brought up by their parents. Every day, I hug and kiss my kids goodnight, and I feel so nice about it. I feel that if we teach them and show them love, they in turn will do the same in their future. Be aloof or just do a thing for them as a duty, then that is what they would learn too. I would sure love to be hugged and loved by my future grandkids as my kids do to their grandparents and as I did to mine!

 

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